AN: I'm not really happy with this chapter yet. I feel like I could have done more with it, but I feel like I've just run out of time. I'm sorry for the wait for this chapter, but I'm currently pregnant with my second child and the first trimester was HELL. Whenever I felt good enough to be productive, I needed to spend time on my real life and older kiddo. I'm back in the saddle now, have the first part of the next chapter done, and I'm working on some side projects I hope will greatly complement this on. On top of that, I really want to go back and rework my first few chapters and I have someone working with me on that now :) I hope this chapter was worth the wait!
12/4/13 - I've gone through and edited some of the more obvious mistakes in this chapter. It should be much easier to read now! Please, if you spot any clear mistakes in my writing, feel free to leave a review or message me pointing it out.
Vegeta and Trunks arrived home to a silent Capsule Corp. Vegeta was impressed that not one of the buildings were in flames, having expected more from his younger counterpart. The wish Bulma had made must have been very strong indeed, otherwise she used her wish with exceptional creativity.
Trunks disappeared, mumbling something about finding his mother before going to Goten's. Vegeta didn't pay him much mind, instead focusing on what he planned to do next. He could sense Bulma in their bedroom, still and calm, probably sleeping. In another building across the property, he could sense himself, an odd feeling which raised the hair on his neck, in the private infirmary. It felt as though the boy was sleeping, something Vegeta found strange. He remembered rarely sleeping at that age, always training in between his usual back-to-back missions.
He arrived at the infirmary to find it dark, lights out with the shade pulled down, and his small doppelganger in a deep slumber. Vegeta stalked closer, expecting the child to leap from the bed and try to blow his head off. When that didn't happen, Vegeta paused and frowned, confusion spreading through him like a virus. He shouldn't care what was going on with this impostor Just having him here was a disturbance, and unless it was a challenging opponent or dinner, Vegeta did not like disturbances.
He cast a dark glare at the blanket-covered form and settled into the desk chair that was already pulled away from the desk. He had come here with the intention to just incinerate the problem and be done with it. Now that he was here, killing himself seemed like a particularly strange thing to do. Not impossible, but maybe something that required a bit more contemplation. People were always telling him he didn't think before acting.
As he laid his arm across the desk, and his elbow came into contact with a small object – a Senzu bean – set innocuously next to an empty metal case. He knew that case, Bulma came wielding that thing at him whenever she thought he'd overdone it training. He nearly always refused the contents inside. The sedative made him completely unaware of his surroundings for hours and that was never acceptable. His gaze went to the boy on the bed and he snorted in bemusement. The woman was already at the end of her rope and his younger self had only been here a short few hours! Of course, she could barely handle him. When Vegeta had arrived on Earth after dying on Namek, and he had been much more subdued by then than he was at this age, though he'd never tell her that. She would be ready to send this tiny, disruptive version back where he came from by then end of tomorrow, no matter how stubborn she thought herself.
With a smirk, he pinched the Senzu bean between his fingers and lifted it, eying it thoughtfully. Just because he was sure his youthful counterpart could send her over the edge in his own time, there was no reason Vegeta couldn't get things started now.
Krillin fiddled with the Dragon Radar for one last time before sighing exhaustively and dumping the useless device to the grass with its twins. Yamcha, Piccolo, and Gohan all looked at him with various degrees of nervousness and impatience from the small semi-circle they'd formed around him. He shook his head bleakly.
"None of them are working?" Yamcha asked. "That's weird."
"No kidding. Do you think they can really all be broken?" Gohan asked.
"How would they all break at the same time? That's nuts!" said Krillin.
Piccolo frowned down at the pile of radars, a dark look slowly coming over his already sharp features. "It must have been Bulma. She must have done something to the radars because she doesn't want us to make the wish."
"I don't know. Bulma can be crafty, but even she would need time to do something like that," Yamcha reasoned.
"Maybe Dende can tell us something?" suggested Gohan. "Why don't we go to the Lookout and see if he knows. Yamcha and Krillin can go check on Bulma and see if she has anything to say about this."
They parted ways from where they'd met in front of the Son home. Krillin and Yamcha nearly dropped from the sky as they were plowed through by an overpowered, angry lavender blur as Trunks arrived and landed violently on the lawn they'd just vacated. The flustered Z Warriors cast him worried glances, but went on their way.
Gohan and Piccolo made their way to the Lookout at a faster pace than Krillin and Yamcha had left towards the CC, silent and serious. Piccolo was clearly in a bad mood, and Gohan had learned long ago to just let him be. They flew for several minutes before slowing, sharing confused glances at each other.
"Shouldn't the Lookout be right here?" Gohan asked.
"It should. Do you feel Dende's ki anywhere?" replied Piccolo.
Gohan sent his senses out as far as he could and was shocked to feel nothing of his friend. He extended himself to look for Korin, Popo, and Yajirobe and came up empty.
"I can't feel them anywhere." he said quietly.
Piccolo descended rapidly, dropping from the sky like a green and purple missile before slowing a few meters above the ground where he hovered. As Gohan caught up, he discovered what had halted his mentor. On the rocky ground, thousands of feet below where the Lookout should have been, lay what remained of it in pieces. What was left belied no hint of the vast interior that the Lookout had secretly held; it was little more than large chunks of granite and marble.
"What – how could – I don't understand. How could this happen? Without anyone sensing something?" Gohan stammered.
"Go get your father," Piccolo grunted as he began to pick through the rubble.
He's searching for the bodies, Gohan thought despairingly, turning to follow Piccolo's command with tears in his eyes.
Yamcha and Krillin found Capsule Corp erupted into chaos. The medical research building on the far side of the compound was only half-standing and other buildings were beginning to go down as well. Capsule Corp. employees fled from their buildings, yelling to each other and the newly arrived emergency crews over the shrill shrieks of alarms. The two caught up with Bulma as she was running across the grounds against the panicked crowds in her bare feet and a thin, pink robe, her short hair sticking out at oddly unattractive angles.
"What happened?" Yamcha called to her as he scooped her up off the ground bridal style.
"I don't know! I had the younger Vegeta sedated in the infirmary so I could get some sleep. He shouldn't be awake yet!" she replied over the rush of air around them. Yamcha cocked an eyebrow at this information, but didn't comment.
They landed behind Krillin, who was already wrestling a spike-haired wild animal into a headlock, clearly not having too much issue, despite the rabid, explosive movements of his opponent. While Vegeta was quite strong for a kid, Krillin was still the strongest full-blooded human on the planet and that wasn't anything to sneeze at.
"Chill out! We're only trying to help you!" Krillin snapped as he pushed the youth to his knees in a full nelson.
"Let go of me you freakish, midget worm!"
"He sure sounds like Vegeta," Yamcha muttered.
"Vegeta, stop it! Stop fighting!" Bulma yelled at him.
The boy immediately went limp in Krillin's arms and glared death up at the two standing in front of him from underneath his fringed bangs. Krillin slowly loosened his hold and backed away while Vegeta gracefully rose to his feet, peevishly dusting off his dirty battle suit.
"The fuck do you want?" Vegeta asked, emitting a rough grunt that sounded strange from a boy as small as he.
"Ah, well, I want you to stop being so difficult and let me and my friends help you," Bulma explained.
"Help me with what? As far as I can tell, I've been abducted by idiots."
"Oh! I haven't really explained very well, have I?" Bulma smiled placating. "I've wished you here from your time line because in our time line's future, you're my husband!" She kept speaking, despite the highly dubious eyebrow the child raised. "And I think that away from Frieza, you're actually a really good person who has been through some terrible things, so I want to help you." She ended awkwardly.
The look Vegeta gifted her with was withering, and for a moment she felt truly stupid. Why did she tell him all that? Right now? Surely there would have been a better way to present that information.
"You really are crazy," he said.
"Do you want something to eat?" she blurted.
"No, I want you to stop using your damned curse on me and let me fight like the warrior I am."
"And then what? You don't stand a chance against my friends," she felt a strange mixture of smugness and regret as she watched his face turn an alarming shade of red.
"Then I will die an honorable death in battle!"
"They wouldn't kill you either!"
"Then what is the point of all this? Why do you hold me prisoner here?"
Bulma's argument pulled up short and she felt a wave of confused anger wash over her. "You want to go back? To Frieza? To living as his slave? You want to go back to that?"
He sputtered, looking for all the world like she had said his mother was a space slug. "Slave? I am no slave, you harpy! I'm am the Prince of all Saiyans. I am a warrior!"
The silence rang. Bulma held her tongue, realizing with dread that she had undoubtedly said the worst thing she could have. The boy version of her husband was breathing harshly, only the magic of the Dragon Balls preventing Bulma's sudden, violent end. She was about to open her mouth to try and apologize, if it was worth anything, when Krillin cut her off.
"Bulma, I know this is a bad time, but we have a problem."
Krillin shrunk back from the Bulma's icy glare and he imagined he could almost see her minuscule ki rising. His unnaturally lucky streak of being rescued in the nick of time held however, as Goku suddenly appeared next to Bulma with Gohan at his side, his hand on his son's shoulder.
"Guys, we have a serious problem."
Vegeta had been happy to sit back and observe the chaos his younger doppelganger wrought. Seeing his wife's employees scatter and run for their lives had brought back a Pavlovian sort of joy. The urge to give them something to really run from began to build somewhere deep inside him, but he squashed the urge. The woman would probably refuse to feed him or disable the gravity chamber if she caught him. He contented himself with enjoying the destruction vicariously.
Seeing Bulma in her ridiculous state of undress had amused him. He knew she loathed to be seen as anything short of perfect, and at present she looked like some sort of demented clown – her makeup running and her short, blue hair sticking up at all angles. He had always enjoyed her in that robe, although when her fool of an ex had grabbed her, Vegeta had to resist bashing in the moron's skull. The robe was far too short for her to maintain any sense of modesty and she had flashed the entirety of the compound her undergarments.
The argument between his younger self and his wife hadn't been nearly as amusing. At first, it hadn't been so bad. Seeing himself subdued by the midget had been aggravating, but there was nothing to be done about it. He knew the "Z Warriors" were stronger than his younger self and it wasn't a surprise. Bulma's fumbled attempt to convince Vegeta to willingly stay and behave was both entertaining and disappointing. She really had no idea what she was dealing with. This small amount of destruction was only the beginning of what could have been one of his former self's legendary temper tantrums. Given a few more minutes, the structural damage would have escalated into carnage. Bulma didn't even seem to understand how fortunate it had been that this entire matter had occurred during lunch, while most of the employees were in the cafeteria, otherwise there would have been casualties.
Her accusation that he had been a slave, however, had made every muscle in his body stiffen. This was what she thought of him? Where had she gotten such an erroneous belief? Vegeta had never, and would never, be a slave! He'd made his choices and he had lived his life the way he saw fit. No one, not even Frieza, could dictate his fate! It burned him, that she held him in such low regard and he'd never known.
He left quickly, after that. He wanted to hear no more of her "opinions" for today.
Trunks sat at the Son's kitchen table, sulking despite the delicious smells of the vast lunch Chichi was preparing. He was still trying to process everything that happened. Goten sat next to him, salivating with the vacant, hungry expression he shared with his father while in the presence of food.
Chichi had welcomed Trunks into the house without a word about his blotchy face or his gloomy disposition. Trunks guessed that Gohan must have caught her up on recent events, because Chichi was tight-mouthed and her movements were violent and abrupt as she cooked her family's morning meal.
"I just don't know what goes on in your mother's head!"she exclaimed suddenly,slinging the bacon onto the griddle with enough force to knock up a thick spray of grease. "She never even considers how her actions are going to affect other people. She drags my Goku and my children off to do insane, dangerous things. Now she's doing it to her own family. I really thought she had calmed down after she had you, Trunks, but she's just as impulsive as she's ever been."
Trunks shrugged, not entirely sure how to respond to another adult criticizing his mother. He was mad at her too, but it still made him uncomfortable. Chichi lapsed back into silence as she opened the oven and viciously stabbed at the enormous roast inside. Goten kicked his legs against his chair impatiently, as if oblivious to his companies' dispositions.
"I don't know how she thinks this is going to change anything." Chichi said quietly, almost to herself.
It occurred to Trunks then, that Chichi had known his father when he first arrived on Earth. Trunks had been told before that his father hadn't always been on the same side as his mother and her friends, but he'd never thought much about it, blowing it off as being the same as Piccolo having once been Goku's enemy. He vaguely recalled his mother offhandedly saying that none of them had really gotten along at first. He figured the same went for his father, but just being on the opposite side of Son Goku did not earn you a spot in Hell and Trunks was old enough to understand that. He'd already died once himself, after all, and figured he had some experience. Chichi was scary, but she could tell him what his father had been like – what he had done that made him so terrible. And best of all, Trunks didn't think she would lie to him.
"Ms. Chichi," he began, his voice immediately cracking as he kept his eyes locked on the table. He was afraid he'd cry if he looked at her. "What did my – why does – Do you think my father deserves to go to Hell?"
She whirled around and peered at him through large, startled eyes, clutching a spatula to her chest with both hands. Goten stopped kicking his chair and looked between his friend and his mother. Trunks took a few deep breaths and raised his gaze from the table to look at her face. Her eyebrows fell as her initial surprise faded and he could see her answer written on her face before she even spoke.
Trunks felt something in him break.